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The contribution of the Orthodox Church in Oltenia (Romania) in the organisation of the Social Assistance for orphans and needy

After the end of the First World War, the Romanian society was facing a serious problem: the large number of collateral victims of war, the most affected being children, the elderly and women. For this reason, the state encouraged the establishment of organisations to protect people in situations of crisis.

The Romanian Orthodox Church was always there for those who have suffered because of the war or of social injustice, being a consolation for the Romanians who put their hope in God.

In Romania, the Orthodox Church was involved in the establishment of organised forms of social assistance, the bigger parishes being able to create foundations to support charity acts. These particular cases needed to be generalized through a unified action of the Church, by following a plan set in smallest details and especially, having the coordination of the local bishop.

Regarding Oltenia, the spiritual jurisdiction over this province belonged, ever since the beginning of the sixteenth century until 1939, to the Episcopacy of Râmnic - Noul Severin (based in Râmnicu - Vâlcea) and from 1939 until now (with an interruption of two years, 1945 - 1947) it belongs to the Metropolitan of Oltenia (located in Craiova).

After the First World War, within the Episcopacy of Râmnic, a Society of priests from Oltenia is established. Its aim was to expand among the population a real social apostolate following Christian principles, using the powers of the clergy to teach, lead and holy individual life and the community. The three directions were briefly mentioned in the Bylaw, suggestively called „Renaşterea” (“Rebirth”), including the social, cultural and missionary component of the activity of the clergy from Oltenia.

The institutionalized social apostolate of the Church from Oltenia began shortly after World War I, because back then people hardship, poverty and immorality emphasized and tended to escalate. Each priest had to act uniformly, upon strict rules, using the same means as everyone else...

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Priest Lecturer Dr. Sergiu Popescu

University of Craiova, Romania